Tell 'em Kilroy Was Here-Adding Chaper one
I am trying to write this through the eyes of a teenager...who is a drunk. Would you have an opinion? Much appreciated.
TELL 'EM KILROY WAS HERE
They told me my IQ was 148 like that was supposed to knock my socks off or something. They also told me I border on being a manic depressive which gives credibility to their believing I might be a great artist someday. They also told me I should utilize my time better so they gave me this 19 cent Bic pen and this 89 cent note book and suggested I jot down my thoughts about what happened in my life to make me take a razor to my wrists and bleed all over the sidewalk in front of my apartment building. I will do it only because this goddamned place is boring as hell but don't think I don't know that every chance they get they will be knocking themselves over trying to sneak a look at my private thoughts so they can figure out how crazy I am really supposed to be.
You may have noticed I have used the word they quite frequently.Actually there are only three persons I am referring to. I just ended that sentence with a preposition to get back at that *** of an English instructor of mine who every summer vacation is going off to the woods and write that best seller we are all waiting for which is going to knock us out of our seats and I just noticed this is the third time I have used the word knock in my story so I had better be more careful or my IQ will suffer a point or two! I should have said too.
The first guy is my lawyer Jack Walsh who I think one time had an affair with my mother which probably explains why he is representing me in the first place for financially my family is beyond embarressment. Besides since the old man is dead who cares. It is nice to see the old gal with a periodic grin. Walsh is not a bad guy; I mean he is trying to help me through the courts get a nice place to stay while they disect my brain but he smiles so damned much sometimes he is hard to believe.
And then there is Jessica Wentworth. Doctor Jessica Wentworth. Her friends and collegues call her Jess but that sounds a bit manish for me so I call her Jessica. It is some kind of new thing they have in this place so a teenager does not feel intimidated we get to call the doctors by their first names.She appears to be about 35 or so but looks younger when she is not playing her medical role. I kind of got this next information from this colored guy who works the floors as some sort of guard. It seems Wash is not only cheating on his wife and mt mother but is also having a little thing with Doctor Wentworth which is surprising since she is so young and attractive and him in his late fifties so I gather his ego is suffering and Jessica is assisting helping the aging Irishman overcome his male menopause but that is none of my bussiness because I have my own problems.I just wish she would stop asking me those embarrassing questions . " Do I hate my mother," or " How often do you masterbate," and things of that nature and I want to tell her if I had some one like you I would give up this self abuse right this minute but the truth is I'm chicken so I remain mute and we move on to the next question.
When I first met Jessica she told m how bright I was just because I paced about her office gazing at er bother er the diplomas on her wall and quizzing her as to whether or not she really attented all these universities I bet 99% of the people who visit doctors never bother to read those sheepskins and sometimes I wonder if these doctors really earned them. And those pictures they have of their families sitting on their desks of their moronic looking kids. I think I would feel more comfortable if they had a bowling trophy on their desks or something. Anyway when I first met Jessica she was wearing this tight fitting blouse and skirt. I still remember the blouse was a pinkish color with ruffles down the front and the skirt was black. At first I was uneasy because of her beauty but also I was intimidated by her intelligence. I think I might be somewhat enamored then again it is probably this puberty thing kicking in again. I don't know.
What I do know is that the three of them quiz me morning noon and nightwhich brings me to the third person I almost forgot to mention; Doctor Friedman. I am not sure what to make of this guy but he always has this knowitall glare in his eyes and before I can complete an answer he starts nodding his head up and down like one of those football dolls they sell outside Yankee Stadium with the springs in their necks. And that is another thing that bothers me! I mean it is only right that those vendors sell only New York Giant dummies. If they want to sell Green Bay dummies let them do it in Wisconsin and not in New York which is the greatest city in the world- so be it!
The reason I am not too sure about Doctor Friedman is I found out his friends call him Woody. Now I know for a fact his name is Eugene so what's up with Woody? It is not as though his name was Woodward or anything like that. Possibly it is just the way my mind functions but I find it disconcerting to have a man who is supposedly highly esteemed in the medical profession running around during the day as Doctor Friedman and at night he becomes a Woody!
Dr. Friedman is a short fellow of Jewish extraction though not of the commitment to the belief the Messiah is on the way back. He told me and a matter of fact the only belief he has retained with and conviction is that everyone is screwed up but him. Most times if I ask him about his tennis game we can usually waste an hour or so with his disertation on the fine art of keeping ones wrist locked on the backhand and lifting from low to high to acheive the maximum amount of top spin necessary to clear a net which is 3 feet in the center and 3 feet 6 inches on the sides (probably an engineering error) and on and on about a topic which bores the hell out of me but it is better than being asked 60 questions in as many minutes.
Another thing that bothers me about UGH! Woody is his glasses. He is always peering over the top of them rather than look through the glass. You would think a man of his financial status should be able to afford proper eye care and if need be not be too proud to wear bifocals.He seldom looks me in the eye when I ask him a question but boy when he asks me one his gaze just about puts a hole through my belly button!
Anyway I will tell you more about those three later but basically I am going to to tell you about what went wrong in my head and got me stuck in this place. By the way, my name is James Kilroy and I live in the Inwood section of upper Manhatten but what few friends I have call me Jimmy. I am a high school student 16 years old and a part time delivery boy and since I am supposed to be honest with my feelings according to you know who- I am an acoholic. There; I said it ;it's done. This is my notebook for better or worse about what led up to that day.
Five a.m. The grayness of it all. In a limbonic state- not knowing or caring what is real or unreal- just drifting, drifting, drifting. Good dreams bad dreams all uncontrolable until a noise forces the eyelids to flutter then open to the actuality of the whole- thing? For now, the subconcious controls all thoughts. For once a dream unnightmareish. Let me stay here and float and by the god or guru or great goober I promise I shall abide by whatever laws you have enacted for my soul to win this great game. Let me sleep. Let me dream.
- Jimmy! Get up now!-
That voice again. It, the voice, penetrates walls, moves about bricked corners as a snake moves about the desolate sands uninhibited by the scrub within its path. Always moving, moving, moving, and then the tongue strikes and the ear hears.
The eyelids refuse awareness and remain intact. The vibrations upon the ears echo, echo, echo. Message not received! Five minutes more with my thoughts- please. It is so hard to go back to before. Think. Remember. Yes. The dance. She stood across the wood covered auditorium floor.
- Ladies Choice!-
He (I) stand in mortal fear of who shall pick him from the crowd of pimply faced vodka breathed half men. The humiliation of being left out, unpicked, rejection always the possibility. Let it be her. Girls on one side of the floor boys on the other. The drummer of the band, The Saints and the Sinners, rolls his wrists over the skins and the wooden sticks ratatata to his commands.
And here they come this pack of cats. The boyís feet shuffle uneasily. Got to play it cool. Look indifferent. The ladies sashay intently. And then I see her. The queen bee Irene Dwyer with her black eyes and prominent breasts her skin color Mediterranean. Prize of prizes. Helen of troy. Irene of Inwood! She moves in the middle of the pack surrounded by her court. The strobe highlights the raven sheen of her hair which cascades behind her shoulders and down her spine until it comes to rest upon the small of her back. The closer she gets the more ample her figure appears. Her chest endowed beyond her years. The most alluring of her features her eyes. Thick black eyebrows; copper skinned eyelids; Lashes extending to bat over brown pools. Her dress a white flowered cotton hugging hips meant to be hugged and lifted and lowered to states where two become one and the world around you becomes obscured. The neckline plunges downward to a tanned toned valley whose peaks may or may not have been encountered by an adventurous soul. The black Irish Venus of Inwood! About her neck an ebony chocker white cameo in its center a figurine upon the throat where Adam does not lie. My Adam sticks as the heart beats faster and faster...Pick me, Pick me
One hope ones imperfections are overlooked...the chipped tooth, the scarred chin, and all mementoes from the war in the streets. The half pint of vodka was insufficient to enhance his courage. He wishes he had a chicolate to diguise the crack in his tooth. What a gaping stupid smile! Vanity of youth. All these thoughts his but what of hers. Closer and closer they move these perfumed wonders of ones lustful youth; doused in their entrapments always daring in their movements.
Comrades? Together we mingle with our backs to the wall in mutual apprehension. We\stand erect but cannot appear\over anxious. Here they come. Straighten those ties and adjust the suit jacket lapels. Stick the left foot behind the right pant leg and rub the shoe dust away. Steady now...steady! My feet shuffle uncontrollably as she stands before me with outstretched hand. She leads me upon the dance floor and we are moving to the sound of twangy notes. The song is called Still. Her right hand slowly slips from my grasp as she pulls me closer. My free hand finds the small of her back as we silently move cheek to cheek. Rhythmically she rubs my shoulder and I feel the tenseness leave my body. Abruptly the music ends and mutely I stand afraid to open my mouth. She leans her head back and laughs and then pulls me toward her and kisses my ear and whispers,
- Why donít you take me home.-?
And then the interruption.
- Jimmy! Are you getting out of bed or not!-
So much for dreams. The voice now stands above me. If I had known it was coming I would have burrowed deeper and deeper beneath the itch infested army issue blankets. No exit.
-Yeah, I yawn.-
- Well hurry it up or you'll be late for mass. I donít know whatís the matter with you anymore! You donít seem to mind your mother getting up at 4:30 working her fingers to the bone preparing this families breakfast, getting ready for work while the rest of you sleep away the day. Now get up! There is oatmeal on the stove and for the life of me I...-
The voice continues to drone reprimands as it fades to a distant part of this two bedroom dump. And what is this all in my head about Irene Dwyer? Everyone knows she is Richie Donovanís girl and no one messes with Richie Donovan. I wait a moment while early morning sexuality dwindles and becomes dormant for another day. I shouldn't have drunk so much the night before and I swear for the 100th time I will never touch another drop as I kick the covers to the floor and rise from my hideaway. I sit with my hands holding my chin and stare out the window cursing this woman who constantly interrupts my dreams just about when I am gonna do it. Across the avenue Leaping Lizzie paces back and forth in front of her window probably planning another of her swan dives. She lives on the second floor and every month or so perches herself like a pigeon on the fire escape threatening to end it all which might have greater effect if she moved to the eight floor but thatís Lizzie.
- So, youíre finally up.-
Is that a question or a statement?
- Yeah I answered sarcastically.-
- Donít you ever talk to your mother in that tone of Voice! She shrieks and then she growled. You hear me Mister!-
- Iím up aint I.-
- Well see you stay up.-
In my mind I say why donít you go screw old Walsh but in reality I sit still staring out the window and squint my eyes so everything within my gaze becomes abstract and blurred. And then I start flapping my tongue like a dog lapping in some air and trying to remember where I was last night when here she starts again.
- And where were you last night,-
She makes statements, she never phrases a question.
_ Out I respond.-
- What are you doing squinting your eyes like that. And put your tongue back in your mouth and wipe that smirk off your face or Ill wipe it for You!-
- Aw shuddup I said as I ducked and left the room with the voice behind me ranting;
- You wouldnít talk like that if your father were alive!-
I slammed the bathroom door and turned the lock. The sound of the turned on hot and cold water drowned out the berating voice on the other side. With cupped hands I splash water upon my face then push my hair straight back and gaze at the reflection in the mirror. Someone with red eyes stares back. Turning on the tub water a cockroach tries to flee but I stop the water and watch the whirlpool twirl and take my fellow dweller of the tenement to his demise. I moved the laundry hamper and blocked the door and retrieved my Playboy from its hidden compartment and then the pounding on the door begins so I toss the magazine aside and flush for effect and yell Ill be out in a minute and rise from the bowl and once again stare in the mirror at this man with piercing blue eyes and round owlish eyes and firm chin and I wondered why this reflection had tears running down its cheeks. I shake my head back and forth and the tears subside and then I open the door and out of the apartment as the voice continues its wail of woe is me and I slam her gob shut.
I could hear the elevator rumbling on its cables toward my floor. The car alit and I opened the heavy iron door as the door within slid open on its track. As I entered a womanís voice greeted me.
- Good morning James.-
- Good morning Misses Quinn-
I doff my cap and my arms dangle lazily at my sides.
-And what is that contraption you have under your arm James=
It is called a skate board Misses Quinn.-
- And what do you do with it.-
You ride it madam.-
And how do you hold on James-
- With my feet.-
- Interesting she replied.-
There were three Misses Quinnís in the building and before it became vogue the Misses Quinnís were career women. The three Misses Quinnís were Madeline, Mabel and Majorie.Madeline was the youngest of the three sisters. In order to supplement her income from the music store where she worked she taught the piano. My fingers were not built for the classical. Rather than being long and slender they were short and stout. The hands of a laborer but when she spoke I did not want to offend her efforts.
- Are you serving mass this morning James?-
- Yes maham.-
Do you plan on continuing your lessons James?-
- Its hard to find the time Misses Quinn.-
- One should always find time for the classical young man.-
- Yes maham-
As she smiled I could not stop staring at her beavered teeth and as usual her teeth were lipsticked stained. While at her lessons she would often take a piece of toilet tissue and rub the front of her teeth clean. She would then slide next to me on the bench and together we would gaze at the sheet music which was a mystery to me.
- Remember it this way she would instruct. Every good boy deserves fun. E.G.B.D.F. And the open keys spell the word face. F.A.C.E.
Her finger nails were long and firm. As she would speak she would drum her fingers on the white boned keys making a musical tap tap tapping sound which pleased the ear. She was a classical lady amongst uncultured slobs..a good woman. I would con her into showing me a particular movement and she was off into musical space while I sat and enjoyed the concert. But I could not tell her the truth about my musical ambitions so I stood there with my head throbbing and the damned elevator moving an inch at a time so I just answered yes to everything she asked which is what grownups want to hear anyway and thatís all I remember about the elevator ride. What I do remember is jumping on this board my cousin in California sent me and riding and riding and riding. And then the pounding in my head began again so I rode faster and faster until I was out of breathe and had to sit down on a park bench and my heart was racing and racing and I was trying to gain some measure of control and just as I was about to relax in strolls Doctor Wentworth with that luscious body of hers so I hid my notebook as she sat down so I will tell you about the mass later.
It is pretty obvious I am oversexed but that is basically due to lack of performance than anything else. It is not like I donít try It is simply because in all honesty I am pretty classless. Piegons in Central Park have more class than me but perhaps that is due to their proximity to the Plaza Hotel but Iím not sure. Like now. Jessica sits across from me her leg crossed and all I can think of is how I can cop a cheap look up her dress. Yeah real class! my eyes are twitching up and down. I know exactly what Iím doing; she knows what Im doing; freaking Hellen Keller could take one look at me and know what Im doing but I cant stop!
- Can you tell me what youíre thinking?-
Boy I would like to but I cant so my mind starts to wander until finally I tell her.
- A bench.-
- You were thinking about a bench. What kind of bench was it?-
Slats nailed to wrought iron. Hard and wet in the morning dew and I thought of the Jew. It was shortly after six in the morning and I am on my way to the church of the Good Shepherd to assist in the holy sacrifice. Change water to wine to the blood of you know who. Iím in Inwood on the isle of Manhattan. Last stop on the A train-207th street and Broadway and if you donít believe me you are from out of town. Bordering the north of Inwood the Harlem river flows separating Mahattan from the Bronx. To the east the Harlem winds itself south toward the East river once again separating the two Buroughs. Our southern boarder is Washington Heights and to the west the mighty Hudson river roars and separates New York from Jersey. Our encirclement is now complete. Take out a map of Manhattan Island and cut out this section along the boarders I have described and you no longer have a map of a major metropollis and now Inwood becomes a large village complete with its shops run by tinkers, tailors , and candlestick makers. And then you can seperate the village by econmic status then poltics, then religion ,and finally race....
She, Jessica, interrupts me here as her voice softly calls my name- Jimmy, Jimmy. She sat and again called my name and I could vaguely pick uo the sound of her voice over the pitter patter of the rain fall in my head. When you drink this rain cloud follows you whereever you go. You get used to its wettness. The cloud encircles your body while outside its circumfrance the sun shines. You try to ignore the circle of rain and try to leap outside into the warmth; but the rain keeps teaming. I know it is up to me to change but the rain keeps pouring . She spoke again and made me forget my dampness and how chilled I was and how invaded my body really felt. And then this voice beackoned me toward truth; a world of self admission as to what it was I was running from or toward and I asked her pleasantly if she wouldn't mind turing off the recorder which she did. The whirring of the wheels made my brain believe it was reel to reel.I didn't want to feel as though I was a damaged machine if I was going to spill my guts to some smart Doctor who in truth I hardly knew. But I'm a sucker for women. I can't think of an object more beautiful on this earth than a good looking woman regardless of race, creed, or height. Religious fanatics I can do without.
- You have to concentrate if you arrre going to progress don,t you agree? Please, you must trustme. Tell me about that day.-
- I can't, just leave me alone!-
- You were sitting on a bench.-
- What bench?-
- Why did the bench make you think of Jews. What was it, six in the morning; you were on your way to church; you sat on a park bench and you thought of....
- Germans, Nazis, Storm troopers!-
The old men and women who sat on these benches came from eastern Europe survivors from people who would shove them in an inferno as non-chalantly as I would put my bread in the toaster. They would sit on these benches clustered together and speak in a dialect I found both strange and pleasing to the ear. Yiddish I think? The men always wore hats which meant they were either cold or Ortodox. As they spoke to one another I would notice they would never turn their heads left or right but rather speak into the wind as though speaking into a distant memory. Their eyes lay inward as if to gaze outward would be an invitation for unwanted strangers to enter. I imagined I coud hear the sounds of different languages... Hungarian or Polish or Czek or some other far off land and as I slipped a minature of southern comfort from my jacket pocket and drained the contents their voices became louder and louder as though they were sheding the pain of their memories but for all I really knew they could be talking about the laundry man or the tailor or the price of vegatables at the A&P. But that morning on the bench all I thought about was the Gestapo moving down Seaman Avenue, sirens howling in the dewed morning and marching toward my bench. Black cladded figures with swastikas sewn to their arms and rifles draped to their shoulders leaping from a troop carrier and surrounding me.
-Ya vol. You are Kilroy!-
- Your papers please.-
I hand him my copy of the Daily News but he is unsympathic.
- You come with me Jew!-
Jew? Who in the blazes is he talking about! James Andrew Kilroy is the name. Born and bred on the isle of Manhattan of Irish extraction. Mother from Roscommon and father a Kilkenny cat. Sure and begoran who the hell is a Jew. But when they want you there is little you can do. I scream and yell;
-Leave your paws to yourself you facist bastard! I'm on my way to the church of the Good Shepherd to assist in the holy sacrifice!-
They have a good laugh at this and say they are into sacrifices too and if I am a good freckled faced Irish catholic boy lets hear some of the Latin. I am about to lay the Confeteor Deo Omnipotenti on them and begin to ramble when I suddenly realize it is all coming out in Yiddish! Well if this is the moment for receiving the gift of tongues it is a pretty cruel joke to be reciting the act of contrition to nazis in Yiddish and I know I am doomed when all of a sudden Johnny McCann sits down on the bench next to me and I am now aware those big burly thugs I thought were storm troopers were nothing but streetposts but my brain is so poluted I imagine all these crazy things that could not possibly happen.
McCann is as mean as he is ugly and I wish he would find another bench to sit on especially at six in the morning and all the other park benches unoccupied. There is no way to avoid a confrontation with him so I simply sit and wait upon his eloquence.
" Ive seen one of those things ya know," he says.
"And what thing is that?"
" That thing you got on the ground with the wheels on it ya know; whats it called."
" A skateboard."
All of a sudden he as usual changes the topic.
" I saw ya yesterday ya know."
I got to get away from this guy. He's got that look in his eye like you never know when he is going to flip. Every school in the city has tossed his *** out until finally he is down to attending what they call a 600 school which is pretty much New Yorks way of saying this is your last chance at free education and personally I think McCann should be committed and not walking aroud the streets baiting me with his inane conversations but he presses on.
" Ya know Kilroy, ya aint such a hot shot ya know."
" I know."
" Ya know one of these days youse gonna gets yours ya know."
I got to get away from this emotional zombie. Every highschool has this one crazy son of a gorilla who for some unknown reason wants to puch your lights out and I am not sure McCann can do it but it's too early to find out nad besides it makes no sense to keep sitting on this bench at 6 in the morning with this out patient from the planet Mars when I am supposed to be serving mass so I slowly rise from the bench and slip down the street as Crazy John lights a cigarette, pulls out a transister radio; holds it to his ear as the Animals begin to sing "We gotta get out of this place, if its the last thing we ever dooooo..." I am a prep student myself so who needs the agravation of a 600 student..Ya Know!
Mass was spoken in Latin. Et Introibo ad Altare Dei. What a musical experience! And I enhanced my taste for alcohol somewhere between the gospel and the consecration. I started sipping wine from the cruets but not wanting to be sacrilegious, I never sipped the blood of Christ. Besides it seemed somewhat ghoulish to be drinking someoneís blood in the wee hours of the morning so I always snuck into the sacristy before the pageant and pour myself a nice chalice of priests wine before donning my long black cassock and white surplus. My duties were to respond in parrot-like fashion to whatever the serving priest mumbled; serve the wine; move the good book from one side of the altar to another; ring the bell three times as the priest raised the consecrated body of Christ toward the heavens; and mainly play second fiddle to his top banana. I generally enjoyed the mystic of it all except for the sermon which varied in content from the mystery of rising yeast becoming Christís body which they call Transubstantiation to a dissertation on the endless bounty of Gods love and then of course there is the one about the man who wades through the fog until he sees the light of our Lord. Usually, after the sermon, we are possessed with guilt until the servant moves to more light hearted matters such as the local news; who is marrying whom; who kicked off; who is as sick as a dog in the hospital and probably will die and a short prayer for those dearly departed and for those whose clock is ticking. This is followed by the bingo report; scores from the CYO basketball games; and then an explanation for the reason for the second collection which most likely means an introduction to some missionary priest or nun who has just returned from the jungles of Africa with tales of saving and clothing heathen souls. And then the one I like the best; the name of the Korean baby Sister Redemption class has just purchased...John Chan Who or something.
I sit upstage from the pulpit scanning the audience for repeat offenders and phantasize about the seriousness of their sins when old Father Cunningham throws me a curveball by straying from normal procedure. He started like this. " I should like to forego the usual announcements and tell you the story of a boy; no, not a boy but a man, a Good Shepherd man! Yes, this mans family has just been notified their son has given his life for our country. In the far off Asian land of Viet Nam young Michael Dolan..." The name fell upon me as though a meteor had crashed through the church ceiling and knocked the first ten rows of pews into oblivion. I was so stunned I reached for one of the cruets and took what I thought to be wine and almost gagged on the tap water which is used to dilute the soon to be blood of Our Savior. And then he prated onward. ďMichael Dolan has died the death of a patriot; a soldierís death; a Christian death. I can remember Michael as another of Good Shepherds fine freckled face lads who..."
Now letís just hold on here a minute. Pimply and pock marked but never a freckle face. He was two years older than me and god rest his soul I hated his guts. The guy is being martyred for being drafted and shot. And whatís all this Michael stuff? We called him sprocket eyes because his eyes were always bulging and darting every which way looking for something to steal. And mean! One time I was minding my own business hanging around Bennies candy store on 207th street and Broadway drinking a bottle of Pepsi and reading the latest Two Gun Kid comic book when along comes Sprocket Eyes with two of his fellow goons. Since I am 15 and they are 17 I am supposed to quake in my boots.
" Gimme a sip," demands Sprocket Eyes.
" Yeah, yeah!" chorus the goons.
Heroics is not one of my better traits so I pass the bottle to the future war hero. With Emily Post manners he takes his grimy hand and rubs it across the bottle spout as if my mouth germs would kill him. Then each of the goons take their sips rubbing the bottleneck with their tainted paws when finally Sprocket eyes drains the last contents of my Pepsi and passes me back the empty bottle.
ďYou sure you don't want the deposit for the bottle," I thought I asked nonchalantly.
Sprocket eyes hauls off and punches me in the left hand jacket pocket causing extensive damage to not only his puny paw but also to my transistor radio. The goon with pimpled railroad tracked face crouches behind me while goon number 2 charges and pushes me and I tumble to the cement breaking the Pepsi bottle. Old Bennie rushes out of his candy store screaming what a bunch of bums we Goys are as the triumphant prances down the street yelling anti-Semitic slurs at Benny who returns their epitaphs in kind. I like Benny. Sometimes he gives me a job putting together the different sections of the Sunday paper. He tells me all his philosophies about business while I sip a chocolate egg-cream but right now he is ticked off about the shattered glass on the sidewalk as though it were my fault I got beat up by the future war hero and his moron friends. But to ease the strain of our relationship I offer to sweep the debris so Benny can go back to making his cherry cokes and sell his 2 cent pretzels in peace. And as I am bending over sweeping the shattered glass into the dustpan my head to the cement what comes into view but these Bozo size high top black US Keds. As I slowly raise my eyes upward I squint into the toothless face of Crazy John whose glazed pupils stare down at me. And as he speaks he spits and I swear it is raining or something.
ďYa know Kilroy, ya aint such a hotshot...ya know one of these days youíre gonna get yours ya know!"
Ya know sometimes ya just canít win.
I can see Jessica scribbling away as I babble on and on and I wonder what I could be saying of any interest but since I am hit now on and on I go. Which is odd since I am one of those guys who usually stands back, observes and watches the world go by but for some reason she has unloosened this screw in my head and if they named a town after me it would be called Babylon.
ďLetís go back to that day Jimmy. Letís see now. You were at the church serving mass and the priest asked you to pray for the boy who was killed in Viet Nam."
Yeah. Brought the neighborhood boyos back in boxes. In New York City where there are more Irishmen then all of Dublin more drink Rheingold beer than any other beer. In Inwood more infants infiltrate the infantry and get a silent shipping from Saigon. And now the good father asks us to kindly bow our heads in reticent reflection in memory of our latest donation to the cause- Michael 'Sprocket Eyes' Dolan. We obediently lower our noggins and pray until the spell is broken by the commanding communicant: ďLet us pray." I thought we were! And then the Doctor interjects. ďAnd thatís when you had your first drink of the day?
First, second what difference does it make? Yesterday, today, tomorrow, they are all the same. How long have I been in this room? How long have I been in this haze? Parents! Where are your children and children where are your parents? Sure I drank at mass but was it the first of the day. I canít remember. I served the sacrifice somewhat soused. Between announcements I slipped away for a refill. Yes lady! I drank at mass and I did not hate my mother and I really cannot remember my father and I donít like to talk about it much and damned your Ivy League smugness. I drank; I mean I drink because it is in my veins. The gift of my birth. Somewhere along the line I became tainted and what I am trying to tell you is that; is that...I donít know what it is. Quit making me think so much Let me run down to the Hudson and watch the river flow. The whirlpools in the green murky waters swirling round and round are my friends. Anything spinning I befriend. Kilroy is a clown. Kilroy is not me. Kilroy waits upon rat infested river rocks and waves at the Circle Line tour boats wishing he were sailing down down the river. I AM NOT KILROY! I am the altar boy at 6:30 mass praying for the soul of Sprocket Eyes Dolan- war hero. Maybe I should continue my piano lessons with Misses Quinn. I donít know. I need to sleep. Let me dream. Odd? In my dreams I am never the boy on the boat on the river but the boy destined to stand on the river bank waving, waving, waving.
Tell the Colored Guy Iím Sorry
Admitting you are a drunk is not easy. For one thing you have to be sober to do it which in my case makes things awkward. The more I write in this notebook the more I can see maybe there is something wrong with me. At least that is what Woody aka Doctor Friedman is trying to convince me.
ďSo you are somewhat of a religious person James? He asked.
" Ah ha..."
Now what kind of dumb response is that from a doctor? I mean yesterday I spill my guts out to his colleague and now he is trying to pump me dry and the best he comes up with is ah ha! And if he doesnít stop looking at me over those glasses...
" Doctor Wentworth tells me she has given you a notebook. Have you written anything yet?"
" Would you like to read me some of it?"
When I woke up I was strapped to the bed. Jessica tells me I went bonkers and screamed at Doctor Friedman to keep his mitts off my private thoughts and go write his own case history. The more he tried to console me the louder I screamed and throwing things until finally the orderly whose name I think is Andre had to restrain me and I bit him and called him a no good niger and I'll kill you if you donít get your hands off me which is pretty funny since Andre is about 250 lbs. and could have me for breakfast and I am really sorry for calling him a niger because he has always been nice to me but it wasnít me yelling at him and I donít know who it was or even if his name is really Andre so just tell the colored guy I am sorry. They had to sedate me and I lost another day. I woke up and my mouth was all dry and god I want a drink but swear to you I am going to kick this thing!
Breakfast at the Greeks
The days are all intermingled. I haven't seen my mother or my brothers and sisters since that one day they came to visit and I ran and hid in the rec room until Jessica came and calmed me down. I wanted to see them but they kept staring at me and as I looked back at them they looked like shadows and blue spots flashed before my eyes and it has become my only escape from reality this book I keep under my mattress. I look forward to watching the pen move along the lined paper and I suppose I shouldn't have gone nuts when Dr. Friedman wanted to read my work but I get so tired of being criticized all the time. Like when I hand in my papers in English class in comes flying back at me with all these red marks and slashes and it got to the point where I thought I had nothing to say so I stopped turning things in and of course according to everyone I'm dumb and lazy and if that is what they want to think I donít care anymore. So anyway, after the mass I skated on down to the Greek restaurant on Broadway for a hard roll and coffee and maybe catch up on the rapes and murders in the morning addition of the Daily News. I was about to bite into my roll when I notice this hair sticking to the butter so I call Pete the Greek over to bring to his attention his grade A rating might suffer and he gets all huffy like it is my fault there is a hair in the butter pad.
ďIt wasnít there when I gave it to you!Ē Pete defends.
ďWhat do you think I did Pete; pluck my eyebrow and toss it in my butter?"
ďHey, you donít like it go somewhere else!"
Pete tries to grab my plate and we get in kind of a tug of war and the whole scene is embarrassing because now everyone in the restaurant is either staring at me or Pete or checking their eggs for hairs or bugs or any other foreign object excluding Pete. No one seems to want to touch their food plates until I do so I pluck the hair from the butter pad flick it to the floor and bite. All seems silent as I crunch into the hard roll and when it appears I am not about to keel over from the Greek cuisine the silence ceases. Forks and knives scrape the plates, busboys clang dishes into the wash basin; and the Greeks yell food orders back and forth in their foreign tongue. As I sit sipping coffee watching the steam from the cooks stove form on the window pane Pete more or less tosses the check on the crumbs of my roll plate and mumbles again something to the effect if I donít like it shove it and I mumble something like I hear you are going back to Greece Pete. I heard you couldnít stand to leave your brothers behind. To which he responds by calling me a ****in Irish lush to which I respond you might consider practicing electrolysis on your foodstuffs and then I slither off my stool and exit into the cool October air. The wind whips about my face so I turn up the coat collar and skate slowly and deliberately toward the subway entrance. Broadway is now alive, the working class trudging toward their life sources. Everyone works downtown amongst the skyscrapers which reach toward the heavens- all creatures of habit. At noon time they deposit their coins in the Horn and Hardet Automat. At times I skip school and follow the flow downtown and walk along the most influential streets in the world. I hobnob with the rich on Park or Madison or Sixth Avenue which some ingrate has decided to rename Avenue of the Americas. I cross and crisscross streets and avenues until I find myself standing in front of the Plaza Hotel starring with my moronic gaze at the endless stream of Limos arrive and depart with their carloads of class. Men in Brooks Brothers three piece suits and then the elegant women in furs and jeweled; their fingers diamonded and emeralded. There heads are held high, a mark of success. The only one with lowered head- the horse who pulls the carriage around Central Park. I stare as though I might achieve asurity via osmosis. And when I realizw how alone I feel I cross the street and move on to Walmen skating rink.
The couples twirl and spin and fall round and round the artificial ice mostly around the outer edges of the rink. Center ice is reserved for those with talent. Hans an instructor moves ever so gracefully as he leads the most beautiful girl I have ever seen through a series of leaps and spins and axles and double axles. And then she spins her skaterís skirt twirling and twirling until she becomes top like. Her leotards hug to her calves so tightly the muscles in her legs appear to want to break free from their bindings. The ebon haired soloist tilts back her head her eyes focused toward the heavens as faster and faster she turns until finally she stops and curtsies to Hans who applauds his smiling pupil. Her brown eyes are filled with satisfaction and her red lips part ever so slightly her chest heaves her breasts dance her teeth laugh and no longer able to control myself I leap up and applaud. Hans Christian swings round upon his skates toward the applauding twit and my face turns crimson from the Germanic stare which pierces through me like a two edged sword. But the Prima Ballerina smiles and curtsies toward me the blushing admirer. My heart races faster and faster as I.....
....Boarded the A train on 207th street and Broadway.